Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Home upgrading, sharing living space--making me a better person

I have posted much here about my home, and my deep connections to it.

When my family--paternal grandmother, parents, older brother, and me--moved here in January 1964, we established a suburban compound of sorts, almost hermetically sealed. Due to complex dynamics, we were actually quite an isolated family unit. I may have mentioned in other posts that this is why I actually fled the house for my freshman year in college, and that word "fled" is a deliberate choice.

Fast forward many years, I'm back to stay. It's my firm resolve to have this residence where my mother can live out her days in as much comfort as possible, and where I can pursue my own "second half."

What brought about my change of heart? It happened almost imperceptibly over time. Some of it occurred with the shifts in the emotional atmosphere as certain family members would pass away, and others would move out--and then come back, drawn to the house's potential, I think.

And then, there was the game-changer-- the introduction of a roommate in 2012. My son's old bedroom was valuable, but wasted, space. I had a female friend occupy this room for about a year, and there has been no going back since then. Aside from the relatively small monthly income, it been an eye-opener, an end of the innocence.

You see, from 1964 to 2012, there were no extra-familiar occupants. The family made up a kind of secret society, with our own implicit lexicon, routines, and rules about the physical environment and the people within the walls. The city-assigned address, as I said before, was the compound. The fact that we rarely entertained, and I was discouraged from having friends over--overnight, or even for the day--further fostered the isolation.

After my female colleague/friend moved out of town last year, I found another congenial roommate--a guy! It occurred to me just recently that with the woman, I always used the word "tenant," and with my current occupant, I have shifted to "roommate." This maybe be food for thought about the level of compatibility. When Mom first heard that we were to have a man in our midst, besides my gentleman friend, she was anxious and highly resistant. Since then, she has accepted the idea, and actually considers him part of the family and home.

My roommate (I shield his privacy by withholding even a first name) has added a warmth to our current composition. Asides from sweet gestures, like bringing small, gifts to my Mom--a bouquet at Easter, occasional chocolates or pints of her favorite ice cream--his presence has compelled me to be mindful of how I share living space. Before, with the previously-mentioned family, we just sort of stumbled over each other, and frankly, were pretty intrusive--often downright disrespectful of each other, now that I think about it.

Over time, my family of origin took our home, and each other, horribly for granted. I was smacked in the face with this fact for the first time when I went away for my freshman year in college. I was a terrible roommate! If I could find that woman on whom I inflicted my unconscious behavior, I would kneel before her and beg forgiveness.

My current roommate has not only lent his gentle spirit, but his fresh perspective. It has been useful, including for how I am managing this upheaval with the progressive home remodeling projects. He has been most forgiving of the inevitable noise, the dust, and the parade of workers. The first benefit is that we will actually be getting air conditioning to make the summer more bearable--for the first time since the house was erected in 1923.

So, I consider this not just a home upgrade, but a personal one as well. Long overdue!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Estancia cabernet, Vivaldi en espanol, and this fork in the road

The past two weeks have been intense. Work-related life from a suitcase is a rather "different" (putting it politely) routine for me. So, what I'd like to say at this point is that I have at least taken away a few nuggets of pleasure.

While on this sojourn, I have had some fleeting moments to savor a wine that is new to me -- Estancia cabernet. I researched it, and places like Bev Mo are sold out of this variety and vintage -- no wonder, if any of you have had the good fortune to taste this.

Then, there's 104.9 FM, XLNC1, broadcasting to the San Diego/Baja California region. Those close to me know that music, especially quality classical radio broadcasting, is very important for me. It provides a calming backdrop for my day, whether I'm working at home on my computer, in the car, or...wherever.

When I lost the signal the other day in the "North County" from my beloved KUSC, I began station-surfing for an alternative, and came up with XLNC1. It's a wonderful station I encourage folks to check out; you also can listen online, as I'm doing now. Where else can you find bilingual announcers presenting classical renditions of works by great composers like Vivaldi, Brahms,...and the Beatles and Freddy Mercury? Yesterday, I heard a Lennon-McCartney song done artfully with full orchestra and chorus. A little while ago, I heard a strings-and-piano version of The Stars and Stripes Forever.

On a serious note, I'm (re)evaluating my most recent career move. I've gone on record as saying that pursuing full-on employment is my intention until I'm 100 (literally!), and I'm sticking to this position. It's important to me for reasons beyond the obvious (income), those including socialization and cognitive stimulation. I've seen too many folks I know retire, and then have their outer and inner worlds implode, and that scares me beyond words.

While I'm been very far away from home for my orientation, my mother is being well-cared-for, and the air conditioning is finally being installed, overseen by my "outlaw" Hal. Next is the electrical revamp of the 1923 wiring. After that, Hal and I will contemplate the kitchen and bath overhaul.

I've kept in touch with the home front during my breaks by phone and text, and have been astonished with the level of homesickness I've experienced. Even now, as I look ahead about six hours to my return to San Diego for the third week, I'm not exactly looking forward to it, which is uncharacteristic for someone who usually loves to travel. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so candid here, I don't know.

So, as I contemplate my next step, I always have my music. I'll keep in touch.